Vietnam hails top foreign trade results

10:22 | 18/01/2018 Trade

(VEN) - Vietnam Economic News’ Phuong Lan talked with Tran Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Foreign Trade Agency, about import, export results achieved in 2017.

Vietnam achieved good import, export results in 2017 - Photo: Can Dung

Could you share with us the import, export picture of 2017?

The past year was successful for the Vietnamese economy, in general, and foreign trade activities, in particular. Total import, export value for the first time exceeded US$400 billion and was forecast to reach US$408 billion by year’s end. Both imports and exports grew 21 percent compared with 2016. This was a satisfactory result in the context of the weak recovery of global trade.

In the past, minerals accounted for a large percentage of Vietnamese exports. Currently, industrial and agricultural products account for 88 percent and 12 percent of total export value, respectively. Among industrial products, mobile phones account for the largest percentage, equal to one fourth of total export value. Other products, such as textiles, garments, leather and footwear also contribute significantly to the total export value.

Despite numerous difficulties due to the dependence on weather conditions and global prices, agricultural exports in 2017 yielded good results. Notably, fruit and vegetables moved ahead of rice - a traditional Vietnamese export product.

Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Tran Thanh Hai

Contrary to a trade deficit forecast at the start of the year of three percent of total export value, Vietnam recorded an annual trade surplus of about US$3 billion. What were the reasons behind this result?

The trade surplus was achieved thanks to the 21-percent export growth and foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam, which enabled the country to reduce raw material and semi-finished product imports. In the auto industry, for example, many components can now be manufactured in Vietnam. In other sectors, such as electronics, telephones, textiles and garments, leather and footwear, domestic manufacturers have been supplied with made-in-Vietnam semi-finished products.

How will the MoIT deal with the concern that foreign trade activities still lack sustainability due to low added value of Vietnamese exports?

The MoIT understands that increasing the export of processed products is a long-term task that requires long-term approaches. Most recently, Vietnam concentrated on resolving problems that required urgent solutions.

Vietnam’s participation in free trade agreements (FTAs) helps the country enhance its economic self-reliance and promote foreign trade in a sustainable manner as it facilitates the access of Vietnamese goods to new export markets. The Law on Foreign Trade Management and new decrees in 2017 created a more open legal framework for state management in this field.

The state plays a catalytic and supportive role in enhancing business capabilities. The MoIT is enforcing the Law on Support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

The MoIT is also accelerating administrative reform to save time and money for businesses, with 2017 constituting a watershed in efforts to slash business conditions and simplify specialized inspection procedures. These efforts will contribute to the sustainability of import, export activities.

Could you share with us the targets set by the MoIT for foreign trade in 2018 and measures it will take to achieve these targets?

In 2018, the MoIT will strive to maintain export growth. At the same time, it will continue accelerating administrative reform and the implementation of FTAs that Vietnam has signed to make the most of opportunities presented by these agreements. The MoIT will also further improve legal documents. All decrees and circulars related to the Law on Foreign Trade Management must comply with the spirit of this law.

Trade promotion is also an important task. Along with promoting trade in traditional ways, such as sending business delegations to fairs and exhibitions in foreign countries, we will invite foreign business delegations to Vietnam to survey the domestic market and buy Vietnamese goods. We will also use foreign media tools to promote Vietnamese goods.

Applying modern technologies in import and export activities is vital to businesses. The MoIT has put in place policies that encourage and support domestic companies’ involvement in e-commerce activities.

The National Assembly has set the following targets for 2018: gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.5-6.7 percent compared with 2017; total export value growth of 7-8 percent; and trade deficit to be curbed below three percent of total export value.

Phuong Lan